What It Means & Where You Stand

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If you have been following the news, you would have read that Singapore’s real median income, after adjusting for inflation, has fallen by 2.2 per cent due to high inflation.

That said, real income growth remained positive over the decade between 2013 and 2023, with real median incomes rising 2 per cent and real incomes at the 20th percentile rising 2.7 per cent.

Disclaimer: This article contains the latest January 2024 report published by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore on 31 January 2024.

TL;DR: Median Income in Singapore And What It Means For Singaporeans

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As of January 2024, this is the median gross monthly income* of employed residents aged 15 and above:

As of November 2023
(Excluding Full-time National Servicemen)
Including Employer CPF Excluding Employer CPF
Total Full-time Part-time Total Full-time Part-time
2013 $3,364 $3,705 $885 $3,000 $3,276 $800
2014 $3,444 $3,770 $928 $3,000 $3,276 $827
2015 $3,549 $3,949 $943 $3,125 $3,467 $850
2016 $3,680 $4,056 $1,000 $3,250 $3,500 $938
2017 $3,803 $4,232 $1,000 $3,300 $3,749 $1,000
2018 $3,949 $4,437 $1,053 $3,467 $3,800 $1,000
2019 $4,095 $4,563 $1,090 $3,561 $4,000 $1,000
2020 $4,095 $4,534 $1,130 $3,573 $4,000 $1,000
2021 $4,180 $4,680 $1,170 $3,683 $4,000 $1,042
2022 $4,680 $5,070 $1,287 $4,083 $4,500 $1.200
2023 $4,752 $5,197 $1,267 $4,117 $4,550 $1.200

Source: Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, Manpower Research & Statistics Department, MOM

*Gross monthly income refers to income earned from employment. For employees, it refers to the gross monthly wages or salaries before the deduction of employee CPF contributions and personal income tax. It comprises basic wages, overtime pay, commissions, tips, other allowances and one-twelfth of annual bonuses. For self-employed persons, gross monthly income refers to the average monthly profits from their business, trade or profession
(i.e. total receipts less business expenses incurred) before deduction of income tax).

While this is good to know to gauge where you stand, the bigger problem here is whether our wages have actually kept up with inflation. This can be derived from something called “Real Income”

Real vs Nominal Income in Singapore

The difference between the two is whether inflation has been accounted for.

Simply put, Real Income, also known as real wage, is how much money an individual or entity makes after adjusting for inflation. Nominal Income, on the other hand, does not account for inflation.

On a yearly basis, the MOM measures the gross monthly income from work. This is said to be the widest measure of income from employment, covering both employees and the self-employed.

For the income of a typical worker, one should look at the median gross monthly income. This is the income in the middle after the workers are ranked by their income.

Source: Giphy

Catching it so far?

Singapore’s nominal income of full-time employed residents grew by 2.5% from $5,070 in 2022 to $5,197 in 2023, while the real median income fell by 2.2%.

What does this mean?

This means that inflation remains faster, and as we all know, prices will remain elevated through 2024.

Think about it, you might be getting a pay increment, but is it enough to cover the rise in the cost of living, such as rent, food, healthcare, and petrol?

For those who’re wondering, this is Singapore’s real basic wage changes over the years:

Basic Wage Change
2012 -0.1%
2013 2.7%
2014 3.9%
2015 4.7%
2016 4.0%
2017 3.0%
2018 3.6%
2019 3.2%
2020 2.3%
2021 0.9%
2022 -1.0%

Source: MOM

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Singapore’s Labour Force in 2023

The employment rate declined to 66.2% in 2023, from the historical high of 67.5% in 2022 when the labour market was exceptionally tight.

The unemployment rate fell over the year from 2.6% to 2.4% for Professionals, Managers, Executives, and Technicians (PMETs) and from 4.4% to 3.6% for non-PMETs.

The PMETs still occupy the highest percentage of Singapore’s labour force, at 62.6%. This reflects a highly educated workforce!

When ranked against the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries on overall employment rate, Singapore would place fourth.

While this is the overall picture currently, we can’t ignore the fact that there is also an uptick in layoffs specifically in the technology and banking sector.

Hopefully, if anyone is keen on changing their industries, or would like to upskill, they would be able to get the help they need.

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Other Income Statistics In Singapore

But of course, median income alone isn’t enough to paint a broad picture of our labour force. So here are a few other articles that we did that you may find interesting!

Salary by Age and Industry

Income Distribution in Singapore

Average Cost Of Living in Singapore

How to Ask for a Pay Raise?

By now, if you have not asked for pay raise, you might be losing out.

Take these steps before you talk to your boss!

For early jobbers and job seekers, you don’t want to be lowballed and it’s good to know how much you’ll be paid, and ask for it.

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Despite some improvements in the figures, it’s not all rosy after all.

As someone who’s sandwiched between generations, I can’t help but struggle at times too.

Besides ongoing inflation, we also have the Goods and Services Tax (GST) increments to deal with, one on 1 Jan 2023, and another on 1 Jan 2024.

Hopefully, we will be able in a better state by then as we cope with inflation.

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